10 of the best summer festivals in Kent
PUBLISHED: 11:25 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:41 28 October 2020
© Carolina Faruolo 2018. All rights Reserved.
If you love live music, good food and fun in the sunshine, here’s our guide to some of Kent’s best music festivals this summer
21-23 June / Eridge Park, Tunbridge Wells
It's the second year for award-winning new music festival Black Deer. The three-day event is a celebration of Americana and country music, as well as food, storytelling, craft and American culture. There's a partnership with Tunbridge Wells live music venue The Forum too, making sure local acts are also given time slots. Camping is a civilised affair with a choice of bringing your own tent, using pre-pitched tents or 'fancy camping' in bell tents, tipis or even Airstream caravans. Like many festivals, you can bring your own camper van by arrangement. And there's plenty for young festival-goers too, with den building, dressing up and guitar lessons. The line-up this year includes Band of Horses, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, The Staves, Hayseed Dixie and many more.
9-16 August / Venues across the town
One of the biggest folk events in the country, the 54th Broadstairs Folk Week will see around 450 events crammed into one week, in almost every available venue in the town. There will also be workshops for all abilities in music, song and dance, as well as a full children's programme of events. Morris sides contribute to the colour and music around the town, and stream down the High Street in the annual parade. Some of the acts attending this year include Jon Boden & the Remnant Kings, the Poozies, Tim Edey, Granny's Attic and Noble Jacks. Festival tickets are available with or without camping or for separate events.
7 & 8 September / Joss Bay Beach, Broadstairs
Now in its seventh year, Wheels and Fins is held on the beach at Joss Bay and, unusually, blends music with action sports such as surfing, BMX and skateboarding. Boasting a summery, laid-back feel, it has cemented its place as an intimate, independent festival. Last year the final day of the event was curated and headlined by The Libertines, but this year the entire event will be taken over by drum 'n' bass record label Hospitality Records. Acts will include Kings of the Rollers, Inja and Etherwood. There's camping by the sea and the option of booking a yurt or bell tent if you don't fancy putting up your own tent.
1-4 August / John Darlings Farm, Hever
From humble beginnings in 2006, when founder Lee Denny invited friends to a mini music festival in his parents' back garden, this event has grown year on year, carrying a fierce sense of independence and picking up multiple awards along the way. Based on Peter Pan's magical world, where children never grow up, the festival has evolved to become as much about dressing up and fantasy as it is about the music. Three 'magical realms' will hold 11 stages across the forest site, while camping is divided into a general camping area, a family camping area and a boutique glamping site. The line-up includes The Vaccines, Sleeper, Kent-born singer songwriter Lucy Spraggan, The Futureheads and Black Honey.
7-9 June / Elm Wood, Hawkhurst
If you're looking for a small family festival with a relaxed feel, you can't beat Woodlands. Not strictly a music festival, think storytelling, bush craft adventures, fancy dress and family entertainment. That said, they do support local and up-and-coming talent, so the stage will host a variety of musical acts, including Elo Quitmann, Indigo Sea and The Tarot Rats. There's a takeover from Mum's The Word Events, who will be holding one of their #Wild_Child dance parties, as well as the usual Fabularium Forest Disco and screenings at The Big Outdoor Cinema. There's general camping and a boutique glamping option, as well as all sorts of hand-picked food and drink stalls to enjoy.
23-27 May / The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood
Returning to The Hop Farm, the team behind Alfresco Festival is putting together its biggest production to date. Known for its electronic dance music, this year's event will see four daytime stages featuring live music and DJs, three late-night stages and much more daytime entertainment - including hip hop karaoke, comedy acts and Panic Family Circus. The music line-up includes 2ManyDJs, Joey Negro and internet sensation Marc Rebillet. Pitch your own tent or upgrade to a pre-pitched bell tent next to the river for a little more luxury.
19-21 July / Mote Park, Maidstone
Celebrating classic and contemporary rock, progressive rock, blues and country, Ramblin' Man Fair is a rock festival designed for rock fans by rock fans. Some of the biggest names in music have played at this event over the previous four years, and 2019's line-up will be no different, with performances from Foreigner, Black Stone Cherry, The Darkness and The Wildhearts. Set in Maidstone's Mote Park, the event also offers the very best in food and drink and features its own beer festival. Accommodation includes camping at 'The Mote' and glamping at 'The Ranch', while VIP facilities include a special bar with viewing platform.
21 & 22 Sept / St Clere Estate, Kemsing, Sevenoaks
Previously a one-day event held at Port Lympne, Southbeats Festival is moving to a new venue this year and will be held over the entire weekend, offering double the entertainment and a real festival atmosphere. Known for its electronic and urban music, Southbeats will include camping for the first time and will be an adult-only event. Acts are set to include Dizzee Rascal, Shy FX and a DJ set from Mike Skinner. Chosen for its easy accessibility, just off the M20 and close to Borough Green station, the new venue will allow for a real celebration of modern music and culture, with a vibrant, natural backdrop.
2-4 August / Mount Ephraim, Faversham
One for fans of classic rock, A New Day Festival returns to the beautiful Mount Ephraim Gardens in August. A weekend packed full of rock, roots, blues and prog-rock, it's a family-friendly event with entertainment for the kids, craft stalls, and plenty of good food and drink to enjoy. This year the line-up includes Fish, Wilko Johnson, Sweet and Mungo Jerry, as well as a '50 years of Jethro Tull' show from Martin Barre and friends, plus a classic Deep Purple performance from Glenn Hughes. Camping is available with the option of upgrading to pre-pitched tents or bell tents.
19-21 July / St Clere Estate, Kemsing, Sevenoaks
LoveFit brings something very different to the festival scene. Another one for adults only, it's a unique event bringing together music, fitness, adventure and wellbeing. Rather than drinking cider in the sunshine, LoveFitters can expect to spend the weekend working out and taking part in competitive games. The forest sanctuary will feature wood-fired hot tubs and natural treatments, so guests can take a break too. After dark the festival offers music from some of the UK's hottest DJs and dance acts on the main stage. Guests are also able to camp under the stars as part of the festival experience, and can upgrade to glamping accommodation.
For even more music
There are plenty of other festivals in Kent this summer, including Camp Wildfire at the St Clere Estate (30 August to 2 September), Margate Soul Festival (2 to 4 August) and One Love at the Hop Farm (30 August to 1 September). Don't forget our excellent local music festivals either: Ashford's fabulous free music event, Create (20 July), Local & Live in Tunbridge Wells (tbc), Tonbridge Calling (10 August) and many more. Other live outdoor music events this summer include Pub in the Park in Tunbridge Wells (12 to 14 July), the Rochester Castle Concerts and Bedgebury's Forest Live gigs.